HILLSIDE SCOUT CAMP
SMALL DOLE, HENFIELD, WEST SUSSEX
CAMPING AND TRAINING GROUND
ANY Scouts on one of their journeys have been given the Map Reference 52/213122 (Now OL11 213122). if you would like to check this you will find that it is one for the Camp Site known as Hillside (or Hill-Side as it was originally written). The Camp Site has an interesting history.
IN the early thirties a former Barrister and enthusiastic Scout, who became the District Commissioner of the then Hove to Shoreham Local Scout Association, purchased the site. Thomas Cooper Rogerson after two years work on the site presented Hillside, which consists of twenty one acres, to the local scout association. C.R., as he was known, had worked every moment in those two years to erect a store cabin, an ablution hut and also a cycle shed. Ditches had been dug and concrete bridges built. There was a camp fire circle with carved seats of all shapes and sizes.
THE Camp Warden, who resided in Small Dole, was well known to all those who camped in the first thirty years of Hillside’s existence. Dave Hedger became the Warden in 1935 and worked along with CR in the development of the site. It is recorded that the heart of Sussex lived within him and besides being responsible for the upkeep of the site he taught many a young person the art of axemanship and other outdoor crafts. “Dave”, as he was so affectionately known, continued his work at Hillside until a few years before he passed away in 1968 aged 94 years.
ON the 18th September 1937 the site was officially opened by the then Deputy Chief Scout, Lord Somers K.C.M.G., D.S.O., M.C.. There are reputed to have been 1287 campers who used the site before the official opening!
How many thousands have used the camp site since that eventful
day in 1937?
AT the outbreak of war, civilian camping was banned although Hillside was used for day visits. Children usually arrived by bicycle and a full programme of activities ensued. Signalling was an important activity in those days and for this purpose a tower existed for many years attached to a large tree at the eastern side of the field.
The Canadian military forces camped at Hillside for a period during the Second World War. in 1941 ‘back door’ approaches were made to the Ministry of Defence to permit limited scout camping to resume and after some aerial checks, permission was given for a small number of tents to be used. These had to be of dark canvas and well hidden. The effects of evacuation and shortage of Scouters along with rationing kept camping to a minimum It is remembered with nostalgia that the main concern one Easter was whether there would be enough leaves on the trees to actually allow camping!
IN 1944 an army type stove was fitted in the western room of the original ‘cabin’ and this gave small groups of scouts the opportunity to sleep in some warmth during the colder parts of the year. The outer room of the ‘cabin’ held lockers which were designed to contain tentage, ground sheets and cooking utensils sufficient for a patrol. The original ablutions were only partially enclosed, to half height, which was bracing and encouraged a rapid departure on cold mornings!
THE war had its effects but it is also worth mentioning that in 1941 three events took place which altered the course of our Scouting history. Lord Baden Powell of Gilwell passed away as did our benefactor, Thomas Cooper Rogerson. Southwick and Shoreham‚By Sea became a separate District from Hove and Portslade and in 1968 they embraced the Groups from Beeding, Bramber and Steyning in their District. Then, as today, both Districts enjoyed the facilities of Hillside together.
THROUGH the fifties the main form of transport to the camp site was still the bicycle. Trek carts were used to take equipment over the Downs to Hillside and if you were an affluent Group you used a furniture van! Both Districts held various training courses at the site and many specialist weekends were held including one appropriately named “Scoucubonia”.
BY 1965 a main sewer was laid in Small Dole and enthusiasm was renewed to erect a new Training Complex. We had help from the Cement works who provided the basic material for the car park and roadway to the Training complex and with Mackley’s allowing us to connect to their drain through Mackintosh & Partners pipes the position of the building existing today was determined. . The building cost over ¬£6,000 and apart from a Government grant most of the money was raised by local effort. Several amounts were donated, including items from the Fives Club (of the 5th Hove Group), a legacy from the estate of ‘Mitch’, ex. Cub Scout Leaders. 6th Hove and many other former and then current members of the two Districts made financial contributions to the .. ~ new building.
ON the 17thJune 1967 the Scout Training Headquarters for the Hove and Portslade and the Southwick and Shoreham-by-Sea Scout Districts was opened at Hillside. With the new facilities it was hoped that much enjoyment would be derived by the Scouts of TODAY, the Scouts of TOMORROW and happy memories were brought back to the Scouts of YESTERYEAR.
IN the thirty plus years since the Training Room with its associated facilities was opened, much use has been made of the building and Hillside generally. In that time a new kitchen has been added to the original building and other refurbishments carried out including a new cooker together with updating of the facilities in the washroom and toilet areas and the provision of gas heaters in the Training Room.
SHORTLY after the opening of the Training Room (as all the features associated with the development back in the mid-1960’s became known) the then County Commissioner for Sussex gave a ‘mobile home’ to Hillside. This ‘home’ was used for sleepover (modern word!) accommodation for twelve persons only but as years passed its viability was in doubt.
Therefore, the Trustees and Management Committee set about formulating plans not only for new sleeping accommodation but also more facilities for the greater number of females using the site as well as for those people, in the Scout Association and other youth groups and schools, who had disabilities and who were now using Hillside.
ANY development work takes time, effort and support from all those concerned to say nothing of the financial implications associated with such projects. The plans and specification of the proposed new Bunkhouse were submitted to the Management Committee and Trustees and, after minor amendments, were approved by Horsham District Council. The proposed building would provide accommodation for 28 (four rooms with six bunks and two rooms with two bunks), female toilet and shower facilities and access and toilet/shower for the disabled and other features in keeping with such a building.
WITH the continuance of the use of Hillside by a wide range of youth groups, as well as those connected with the Scout movement, the Trustees sought support from the NATIONAL LOTTERY CHARITIES BOARD. After four applications under such categories as ‘Youth Issues’, ‘Voluntary Sector Development’ the Trustees were pleased to hear in August 2000 that a Grant of £146,974 would be made under the ‘Community NATIONAL Involvement’ programme towards the project LOTTERY costs estimated at around £176,500. It is now possible to record the completion of the building and the furnishing of the same within a year from the date of the grant from the NATIONAL LOTTERY CHARITIES BOARD (now known under the new name and strapline ‚COMMUNITY FUND – Lottery money making a difference”) and this has come about through the dedicated work of the Designer and Project Manager, the Building Contractors and all others associated in many various, important and vital ways with this new feature at the camp site. At this point acknowledgement and thanks are recorded to legacies in the Wills of Stan Brown (formerly with the 3rd Hove) and Cyril Rhody of the 5th Hove and who was from 1966 to 1996 the Treasurer of the Hillside Management Committee which have been used to equip the bunkhouse bedrooms.
Concurrently with this major development it became apparent that the roof of the Training Room would need attention and through valued financial support from West Sussex County Council and Horsham District Council with funds held by the Trustees it has been possible to undertake this work which will not only secure the roof of the Training Room for many years to come but has enabled an extension to the roof to be made at the rear of the building bringing under cover Certain of the facilities located in that area.
So, the scene is set for Hillside to be available not only to local scouts but also those in other parts of the Counties and, indeed the country. In addition, it is to these new and enhanced facilities that members of other youth organisations (perhaps especially those without ‘tentage’) and children from schools for the disabled will be welcomed in the months and years ahead.
WE have moved on from the times of the cold shower to hot shower; from semaphore/morse (important as these forms of communication still are) to the telephone; from the old ‘carriage return’ typewriter to the computer and man has been to the moon and colour tv is now so common that it’s hard to imagine what it was like without it!
What next? None of us know the answer to that question but keeping the Scout motto to the fore, we should all “Be Prepared“.
FINALLY, it must be recorded that although some names have been mentioned in this account of Hillsides history, there are many, many more who have made significant contributions to Hillside over the years and, indeed, latterly in the planning and execution of the work associated with the recent developments. It would be invidious to mention any others by name for fear of missing someone out. So, simply but certainly most sincerely, we thank you all. Thomas Cooper Rogerson gave Hillside Scout Camp to the Scouts of this area. We go forward in this new millennium with the thought . . .
One man had a dream . . .
WE WILL uphold that dream . . .
We hope that future generations will get the fun, the friendship, the training and the inspiration that all past users of Hillside have enjoyed and still cherish.